Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1279–1299 | Cite as

Long-Term Trends of Water Quality and Biotic Metrics in Chesapeake Bay: 1986 to 2008

  • Michael R. Williams
  • Solange Filoso
  • Benjamin J. Longstaff
  • William C. Dennison
Article

Abstract

We analyzed trends in a 23-year period of water quality and biotic data for Chesapeake Bay. Indicators were used to detect trends of improving and worsening environmental health in 15 regions and 70 segments of the bay and to assess the estuarine ecosystem’s responses to reduced nutrient loading from point (i.e., sewage treatment facilities) and non-point (e.g., agricultural and urban land use) sources. Despite extensive restoration efforts, ecological health-related water quality (chlorophyll-a, dissolved oxygen, Secchi depth) and biotic (phytoplankton and benthic indices) metrics evaluated herein have generally shown little improvement (submerged aquatic vegetation was an exception), and water clarity and chlorophyll-a have considerably worsened since 1986. Nutrient and sediment inputs from higher-than-average annual flows after 1992 combined with those from highly developed Coastal Plain areas and compromised ecosystem resiliency are important factors responsible for worsening chlorophyll-a and Secchi depth trends in mesohaline and polyhaline zones from 1986 to 2008.

Keywords

Biotic Chesapeake Bay Eutrophication Health indices Water quality 

References

  1. Alden, III., R.W., D.M. Dauer, J.A. Ranasinghe, L.C. Scott, and R.J. Llansó. 2002. Statistical verification of the Chesapeake Bay Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity. Environmetrics 13: 473–498.Google Scholar
  2. Bates, N.R., and D.A. Hansell. 2004. Temporal variability of excess nitrate in the subtropical mode water of the North Atlantic Ocean. Marine Chemistry 84: 225–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boynton, W.R., and W.M. Kemp. 2000. Influence of river flow and nutrient loads on selected ecosystem processes: A synthesis of Chesapeake Bay data. In Estuarine science, a synthetic approach to research and practice, ed. J.E. Hobbie, 269–298. Washington, D.C.: Island.Google Scholar
  4. Boynton, W.R., J.H. Garber, R. Summers, and W.M. Kemp. 1995. Inputs, transformations, and transport of nitrogen and phosphorus in Chesapeake Bay and selected tributaries. Estuaries 18: 285–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bricker, S., B. Longstaff, W. Dennison, A. Jones, K. Boicourt, C. Wicks, and J. Woerner. 2007. Effects of nutrient enrichment in the nation’s estuaries: A decade of change. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program decision analysis series no. 26, 328. Silver Spring: National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.Google Scholar
  6. Bronk, D., H. See, P. Bradley, and L. Killberg. 2007. DON as a source of bioavailable nitrogen for phytoplankton. Biogeosciences 4: 283–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brosnan, T.M., and M.L. O’Shea. 1996. Long-term improvements in water quality due to sewage abatement in the lower Hudson River. Estuaries 19: 890–900. doi:10.2307/1352305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buchanan, C., R.V. Lacouture, H.G. Marshall, M. Olson, and J. Johnson. 2005. Phytoplankton reference communities for Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. Estuaries 28: 138–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carstensen, J., D.J. Conley, J.H. Andersen, and G. Ærtebjerg. 2006. Coastal eutrophication and trend reversal: A Danish case study. Limnology and Oceanography 51: 398–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. CBP Chesapeake Bay Monitoring Program Database. 2008. US environmental protection agency, Chesapeake Bay program office. http://www.chesapeakebay.net/. Accessed 20 March 2009.
  11. Cloern, J.E. 2001. Our evolving conceptual model of the coastal eutrophication problem. Marine Ecology Progress Series 210: 223–253. doi:10.3354/meps210223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cloern, J.E., A.E. Alpine, B.E. Cole, R.L.J. Wong, J.F. Arthur, and M.D. Ball. 1983. River discharge controls phytoplankton dynamics in the northern San Francisco Bay Estuary. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 16: 415–429. doi:10.0272-83)/0272-714(83)90103-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohn, T.A., L.L. DeLong, E.J. Gilroy, R.M. Hirsch, and R.M. Wells. 1989. Estimating constituent loads. Water Resources Research 25(5): 937–942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohn, T.A., D.L. Caulder, E.J. Gilroy, L.D. Zynjuk, and R.M. Summers. 1992. The validity of a simple log-linear model for estimating fluvial constituent loads—an empirical study involving nutrient loads entering Chesapeake Bay. Water Resources Research 28(9): 2353–2364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Conley, D.J., S. Markager, J. Andersen, T. Ellermann, and L.M. Svendsen. 2002. Coastal eutrophication and the Danish national aquatic monitoring and assessment program. Estuaries 25: 848–861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. D’Elia, C.F., W.R. Boynton, and J.G. Sanders. 2003. A watershed perspective on nutrient enrichment, science, and policy in the Patuxent River, Maryland: 1960–2000. Estuaries 26: 171–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Diaz, R.J. 2001. Overview of hypoxia around the world. Journal of Environmental Quality 30: 275–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Duarte, C.M., D.J. Conley, J. Carstensen, and M. Sánchez-Camacho. 2009. Return to Neverland: Shifting baselines affect eutrophication restoration targets. Estuaries and Coasts 32: 29–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Filoso, S., and M. Palmer. 2010. Assessing stream restoration effectiveness at reducing nitrogen loads to downstream waters. Ecological Applications (in press).Google Scholar
  20. Fisher, T.R., E.R. Peele, J.W. Ammerman, and L.W. Harding Jr. 1992. Nutrient limitation of phytoplankton in Chesapeake Bay. Marine Ecology Progress Series 82: 51–63. doi:10.3354/meps082051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fisher, T.R., J.D. Hagy III, W.R. Boynton, and M.R. Williams. 2006. Cultural eutrophication in the Choptank and Patuxent estuaries of Chesapeake Bay. Limnology and Oceanography 51: 435–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gallegos, C. 2001. Calculating optical water quality targets to restore and protect submersed aquatic vegetation: Overcoming problems in partitioning the diffuse attenuation coefficient for photosynthetically active radiation. Estuaries 24: 381–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Greening, H., and A. Janicki. 2006. Toward reversal of eutrophic conditions in a subtropical estuary: Water quality and seagrass response to nitrogen loading reductions in Tampa Bay, Florida, USA. Environmental Management 38: 163–178. doi:10.1007/s00267-005-0079-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hagy, J.D., W.R. Boynton, C.W. Keefe, and K.V. Wood. 2004. Hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay, 1950–2001: Long-term change in relation to nutrient loading. Estuaries 27: 634–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Howarth, R.W., D.P. Swaney, T.J. Butler, and R. Marino. 2000. Climatic control on eutrophication of the Hudson River estuary. Ecosystems 3: 210–215. doi:10.1007/s100210000020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Johansson, L., and K. Wallstrom. 2001. Urban impact in the history of water quality in the Stockholm Archipelago. Ambio 30: 277–281. doi:10.1639/0044-7447(2001)030[0277:UIITHO]2.0.CO;2.Google Scholar
  27. Jordan, T.E., D.L. Correll, J. Miklas, and D.E. Weller. 1991. Longterm trends in estuarine nutrients and chlorophyll, and short-term effects of variation in watershed discharge. Marine Ecology Progress Series 75: 121–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Keller, T.A., G.W. Shenk, M.R. Williams, and R.A. Batiuk. 2010. Development of a new indicator of pollutant loads and its application to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. River Research and Applications (in press).Google Scholar
  29. Kemp, W.M., W.R. Boynton, J.E. Adolf, D.F. Boesch, W.C. Boicourt, G. Brush, J.C. Cornwell, T.R. Fisher, P.M. Glibert, J.D. Hagy, L.W. Harding, E.D. Houde, D.G. Kimmel, W.D. Miller, R.I.E. Newell, M.R. Roman, E.M. Smith, and J.C. Stevenson. 2005. Eutrophication of Chesapeake Bay: Historical trends and ecological interactions. Marine Ecology Progress Series 303: 1–29. doi:10.3354/meps303001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lacouture, R.V., J.M. Johnson, C. Buchanan, and H.G. Marshall. 2006. Phytoplankton index of biotic integrity for Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. Estuaries and Coasts 29: 598–616.Google Scholar
  31. Langland, M.J., J.P. Raffensperger, D.L. Moyer, J.M. Landwehr, and G.E. Schwarz. 2006. Changes in streamflow and water quality in selected nontidal basins in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, 1985–2004: U.S. Geological Survey scientific investigations report 2006–5178, 75 pp.Google Scholar
  32. Lewis Jr., R.R., P.A. Clark, W.K. Fehring, H.S. Greening, R.O. Johansson, and R.T. Paul. 1998. The rehabilitation of the Tampa Bay Estuary, Florida, USA, as an example of successful integrated coastal management. Marine Pollution Bulletin 37: 468–473. doi:10.1016/S0025-326X(99)00139-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Llansó, R.J., L.C. Scott, D.M. Dauer, J.L. Hyland, and D.E. Russell. 2002. An estuarine benthic index of biotic integrity for the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. I. Classification of assemblages and habitat definition. Estuaries 25: 1219–1230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Llansó, R.J., F.S. Kelly, and L.S. Scott. 2005. Chesapeake Bay water quality monitoring program long-term benthic monitoring and assessment component level 1 comprehensive report. July 1984–December 2004 (Volume 1). Prepared for the MD Department of Natural Resources Assessment Services by Versar.Google Scholar
  35. Lung, W., and S. Bai. 2003. A water quality model for the Patuxent estuary: Current conditions and predictions under changing landuse scenarios. Estuaries 26: 267–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Magnien, R.E., R.M. Summers, and K.G. Sellner. 1992. External nutrient sources, internal nutrient pools, and phytoplankton production in Chesapeake Bay. Estuaries 15: 497–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mallin, M.A., M.R. McIver, H.A. Wells, D.C. Parsons, and V.L. Johnson. 2005. Reversal of eutrophication following sewage treatment upgrades in the New River estuary, North Carolina. Estuaries 28: 750–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McConnell, L.L., G.W. McCarty, T.R. Fisher, C.J. Hapeman, W.D. Hively, T.E. Jordan, M.W. Lang, C.P. Rice, A.M. Sadeghi, and D. Whitall. 2009. Choptank River conservation effects assessment project, 2004–2008. NRCS special emphasis watershed, final report. 15 p.Google Scholar
  39. NADP National Atmospheric Monitoring Database. 2008. National atmospheric deposition program. http://nadp.sws.uiuc.edu/sites/siteinfo.asp?net=NTN&id=MD13. Accessed 17 October 2008.
  40. Najjar, R.G., C.R. Pyke, M.B. Adams, D. Breitburg, M. Kemp, C. Hershner, R. Howarth, M. Mulholland, M. Paolisso, D. Secor, K. Sellner, D. Wardrop, and R. Wood. 2010. Potential climate-change impacts on the Chesapeake Bay. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 86: 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Orth, R.J., D.J. Wilcox, L.S. Nagey, A.L. Owens, J.R. Whiting, and A.K. Kenne. 2005. 2004 Distribution of submerged aquatic vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Bays. VIMS special scientific report number 146. Final report to U.S. EPA, Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis, MD. Grant No. CB973013-01-0Google Scholar
  42. Orth, R.J., M.R. Williams, S.R. Marion, D.J. Wilcox, T.J.B. Carruthers, K.A. Moore, W.M. Kemp, W.C. Dennison, N. Rybicki, P. Bergstrom and R.A. Batiuk. 2010. Long-term trends in submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) in Chesapeake Bay, USA, related to water quality. Estuaries and Coasts 33: 1144–1163. doi: 10.1007/s12237-010-9311-4.Google Scholar
  43. Paerl, H.W. 1988. Nuisance phytoplankton blooms in coastal, estuarine, and inland waters. Limnology and Oceanography 33: 823–847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Paerl, H.W., L.M. Valdes, B.L. Peierls, J.E. Adolf, and L.W. Harding Jr. 2006. Anthropogenic and climatic influences on the eutrophication of large estuarine systems. Limnology and Oceanography 51: 448–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Prasad, M.B.K., M.R.P. Sapiano, C.R. Anderson, W. Long, and R. Murtugudde. 2010. Long-term variability of nutrients and chlorophyll in the Chesapeake Bay: A retrospective analysis, 1985–2008. Estuaries and Coasts. doi:10.1007/s12237-010-9325-y.Google Scholar
  46. Purcell, J.E., and M.B. Decker. 2005. Effects of climate on relative predation by scyphomedusae and ctenophores on copepods in Chesapeake Bay during 1987–2000. Limnology and Oceanography 50: 376–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rask, N., S.E. Pedersen, and M.H. Jensen. 1999. Response to lowered nutrient discharges in the coastal waters around the island of Funen, Denmark. Hydrobiologia 393: 69–81. doi:10.1023/A:1003510405699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stankelis, R.M., M.D. Naylor, and W.R. Boynton. 2003. Submerged aquatic vegetation in the mesohaline region of the Patuxent estuary: Past, present, and future status. Estuaries 26: 186–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Testa, J.M. 2006. Factors regulating variability in water quality and net biogeochemical fluxes in the Patuxent River estuary. M.S. thesis, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, MarylandGoogle Scholar
  50. Testa, J.M., W.M. Kemp, W.R. Boynton and J.D. Hagy III. 2008. Long-term changes in water quality and productivity in the Patuxent River estuary: 1985 to 2003. Estuaries and Coasts 31: 1021–1037. doi:10.1007/s12237-008-9095-y.
  51. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2003. Ambient water quality criteria for dissolved oxygen, water clarity and chlorophyll a for Chesapeake Bay and tidal tributaries. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency 903-R-03-002. Washington, D.C.: Office of Water.Google Scholar
  52. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2004. Chesapeake Bay program analytical segmentation scheme. Revisions, Decision, and Rationales 1983–2003. 64p. www.chesapeakebay.net/content/publications/cbp_13272.pdf.
  53. U.S. Geological Survey Surface Water Data. 2008. River Input Monitoring Program. va.water.usgs.gov/chesbay/RIMP/index.html. Accessed 3 December 2008.Google Scholar
  54. Williams, M.R., A. Leydecker, A.D. Brown, and J.M. Melack. 2001. Processes regulating the solute concentrations of snowmelt runoff in two subalpine catchments of the Sierra Nevada, California. Water Resources Research 37: 1993–2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Williams, M., C. Hopkinson, E. Rastetter, and J. Vallino. 2004. N budgets and aquatic uptake in the Ipswich River basin, northeastern Massachusetts. Water Resources Research 40: W11201. doi:10.1029/2004WR003172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Williams, M.R., T.R. Fisher, K.N. Eshleman, W.C. Boynton, M.W. Kemp, and C.F. Cerco. 2006. An integrated modeling system for management of the Patuxent River basin in the mid-Atlantic region of the USA. International Journal of Remote Sensing 27: 3705–3726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Williams, M.R., B.J. Longstaff, C. Buchanan, R. Llansó, and W.C. Dennison. 2009. Development and evaluation of a spatially-explicit index of Chesapeake Bay health. Marine Pollution Bulletin 59: 14–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Williams
    • 1
  • Solange Filoso
    • 2
  • Benjamin J. Longstaff
    • 3
    • 4
  • William C. Dennison
    • 1
  1. 1.Annapolis Synthesis CenterUniversity of Maryland Center for Environmental ScienceAnnapolisUSA
  2. 2.Chesapeake Biological LaboratoryUniversity of Maryland Center for Environmental ScienceSolomonsUSA
  3. 3.NOAA-UMCES Partnership, Cooperative Oxford LaboratoryOxfordUSA
  4. 4.Lake Simcoe Region Conservation AuthorityNewmarketCanada

Personalised recommendations